Quick Questions with Amy King, vice chancellor for Human Resources
With the development of the Universitywide strategic plan and the launch of the Shared Services Center, Human Recourses has developed a new strategic direction to best fit with the University’s current needs. We sat down with Amy King, vice chancellor for Human Resources, to talk about the role HR will play, and what it will mean for you, as University employees.
Q: What led to your decision to develop a strategic plan for the Human Resources department/why does Human Resources need to change?
A: With the shift of our transactional items to the Shared Services Center, we are able to move from predominantly providing administrative services to taking a consultative and strategic approach. We are excited to provide more consultative and strategic services, such as workforce planning, professional development and helping build a culture of community, to name just a few.
This shift is coming not only from DU needing to create more efficiencies, which we’re doing now in the Shared Services Center, but also from national trends that are impacting the field of human resources. Across the U.S., employers are seeing changes in areas of retirement planning, continual increases in health care costs and changes in the employment base. We need to be prepared and structured to help manage and navigate the fundamental shifts in the new landscape. There is so much opportunity on our campus, particularly from the launch of Imagine DU, to recognize and respond to this national shift and transition to a strategic Human Resources department.
Q: Did you gather input from University stakeholders while developing your strategic plan? Who did you talk to? What did you hear?
A: We talked to many key stakeholders throughout our development phase, including administrators and campus groups. We made sure we had a comprehensive representation from across campus.
During these discussions, we asked each group three questions: 1) What should we start? 2) What should we stop? 3) What should we continue? We were looking for input into the need for new programs, things we’re doing that aren’t utilized, and things we’re doing that we should maintain.
Many comments related to staff retention, compensation and lack of clear career paths within the University. We announced last week a staff compensation study that should address many of these concerns over the course of the study and its multiyear implementation.
We also heard a need for a sense of community among employees at the University. Some suggested included sharing stories, and hosting events and in-person trainings that will provide opportunities for people to connect across campus.
Q: How does the new Human Resources strategic plan intersect with Imagine DU?
A: Imagine DU has provided the opportunity to form a strategic Human Resources department. We have an opportunity to infuse programs that enhance the employee experience and strengthen a sense of community in our culture. In Human Resources, we’ve identified areas where we can take the lead. For example, our strategic vision includes the areas of workforce planning, rewards and recognition, employee development and well-being and equal opportunity.
We’ve been working closely with the Imagine DU process and I’m confident our Human Resources strategic direction will better equip us to successfully implement any additional outcomes from Imagine DU.
Q: What will the Human Resources organization look like now?
A: We’ve shifted our structure to focus on four strategic areas: benefits, compensation, people development, and equal opportunity/Title IX. As you may have read, we’ve greatly expanded our Title IX team by hiring a full-time Title IX coordinator and two full-time investigators. The reason we decided to focus on these four areas comes from comments we heard during our listening sessions, general feedback that has come into Human Resources over time, and the work of the Imagine DU Engaging Community task forces.
A major highlight of our strategic plan is for each of these departments to work toward common goals, which fall into four broad categories: workforce planning, rewards and recognition, employee development and well-being, and equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.
Q: How can you further recruitment and retention of quality employees?
A: The staff compensation study will address many of the issues we’re seeing with recruitment and retention. The study will result in consistent job descriptions, titles, salary ranges and pay scales for our benefited staff employees across all units. The study will also include comparisons to the marketplace, encompassing both benefits and pay. We do predict this study will take one year, and the implementation of the results will most likely be a multiyear process where we’ll address the areas of greatest need first. We are excited about the potential of this study to help ensure our job structure and compensation program is up-to-date and fair.
Additionally, we’re identifying a dedicated compensation team within our organization so we’ll be able to stay on top of compensation equity moving forward.
Human Resources is also available to employees for professional and career development. Our People Development team has implemented many new programs for employees at all stages of their careers, and these programs will continue to grow to fit additional employee needs. We’re also available for one-on-one consulting to help employees see a career path within the University.
We want our community members to thrive, and we strive to support employees both in their careers and in their overall well-being. That sense of community is important. Our focus will be on helping create a community that embraces our employees as its most valued asset. It is important to create a culture of praise and recognition and celebrate as a community in order to break down the silos and build relationships across divisions and departments.
Q: What challenges do you foresee in implementing the new Human Resources strategic plan?
A: In the past, the University community has not seen us as a strategic division. To me, this is the biggest challenge we will face. Our goal is to move beyond our historical relationship where we have been seen as the provider of Human Resources transactions, to a new organization that is open, accessible and responsive to the needs of our staff and faculty. We will accomplish this through the creation of programs in workforce planning, rewards and recognition, employee development and well-being, and diversity and inclusion.
Our strategic plan allows us to accomplish all of these goals and objectives and we look forward to achieving them in the coming year. Changing dynamics within our campus culture, within our community and across the country are requiring new services and new levels of support from Human Resources. Various economic, social, environmental and generational changes are present within our culture, within our applicant pools, and across our workforce, requiring Human Resources to change its emphasis from transactional to consultative, advisory and strategic in order to help campus leaders navigate the changing nature of the workplace and the workforce. We will make this happen.
Q: Describe how Human Resources differs from the Shared Services Center.
A: Prior to the launch of the Shared Services Center, we were very transactional in Human Resources. We did a lot of administrative work, record-keeping, etc. Now with Shared Services taking over that large transactional piece, we have the opportunity to shift our focus.
We are now better equipped to assist units and individuals in a consultative role in areas such as employee relations, recruiting, workforce planning and professional development, just to name a few. I’m excited for our new direction, and I believe it will benefit all of us.
Q: How do University policies direct how Human Resources operates? What does that relationship look like?
A: We aim for a cooperative and collaborative approach to enforcing policies. In Human Resources, there are federal and state laws, in addition to University policy set by the University and, in some cases, approved by the Board of Trustees, which we must follow. However, we as a unit do not set policy.
That being said, within those parameters our goal is to find solutions that serve both the individual or department and the institution. We are very solution-oriented and we take pride in ensuring situations are remedied. We have a process for working through workplace issues that is fair and equitable for all parties. Part of our restructure will include the ability for mediation, which emphasizes and encourages a proactive resolution to disputes.
Q: How does Human Resources balance upholding University policies while being a resource to employees who may want to report workplace issues?
A: This is one of the most difficult things we have to balance in Human Resources. Due to confidentiality, we generally can’t inform individuals about the outcomes on the person about whom they’ve submitted an employee relations complaint. We work with individuals to bring awareness to behaviors that may be causing issues, and hope that situations can be improved based on behavioral changes.
However, this doesn’t happen overnight. We want you to know what we are listening and hearing what is going on, and taking action; we have a lot going on behind the scenes that we cannot disclose. Unfortunately, sometimes reviews are inconclusive or they don’t result in the solution the employee may be looking for. The most we can do in these situations is ensure equitable treatment of all parties involved.
With formal equal opportunity (EO) and Title IX complaints, both parties are informed of the findings of the investigation and the imposition of any outcomes that affect the complainant. You can review our policies for more information.
The bottom line is that we have to work together. When we’re open and honest with each other, we can successfully resolve workplace issues and create an inclusive campus community.
Thank you for joining us for this conversation with Amy King; if you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the new direction of Human Resources through this series. Next, we will be talking with Ken Pinnock, director of People Development.
By Katie Watt
Posted Aug. 18, 2015